Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari expressed hope today that the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system would be inducted “within this year” at a press conference where he talked about the new weapons the force will be getting and its preparedness along India’s borders.
“The S-400 should be inducted this year,” Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said while addressing the media on the 89th anniversary of the IAF.
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said that the Chinese air force was still present on three airbases on their side of the Line of Actual Control (LoAC). He assured the country that the IAF was fully deployed and prepared.
The IAF chief said that China’s capability to launch multiple high altitude missions would remain weak, adding that the induction of Rafale, Apaches have significantly added to the force’s combat potential.
“The induction of Rafale, Apaches have significantly added to our combat potential. Our offensive strike capability has become even more potent with the integration of new weapons on our fleets,” said the IAF chief.
He said that the IAF was in the process of new combat systems to ensure that India retains an edge over our adversaries.
“We are on the verge of getting six Light Utility Helicopters from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). We would be around 35 fighter squadrons by the next decade in view of the phasing out of old aircraft and induction of new aircraft,” said the Air Chief Marshal.
He said that the IAF was keen on integration amongst the armed forces. The joint planning and execution of operations by the three services will result in a maximum increase in our net combat capability, said the IAF chief.
Chaudhari took charge as the Chief of Air Staff from Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on 30 September 2021.
An ace fighter pilot, he was earlier in charge of the Ladakh sector during the peak of the crisis with China.
Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, the deputy CEO of state-owned Russian company Almaz-Antey, had said in August that they would begin to deliver the S-400 to India by end of the year 2021. He had also said that at the present Indian military personnel training is underway in operating the S-400.
In October 2018, India had signed a $ 5.43 billion deal with Russia for five S-400 regiments. The US is apprehensive of this deal because the missile has spy systems that, if or when deployed, may reveal US military secrets.